PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/14/2015 – A three-point basket by SMU guard Nic Moore with just over a minute to play broke a tie at 52, then a thunder dunk by forward Markus Kennedy gave the Mustangs room for a 60 – 55 win over the Temple Owls in an American Athletic Conference game at the Liacouris Center. Kennedy scored a season-high tying 21 points making 9 of 11 from the floor in a return to his hometown.
The Owls held a 13 point lead early in the second half. The Cherry and White were playing well, but the Mustangs did not go away. Led by Kennedy who scored 15 of his points in the second half, SMU chipped away at the deficit. A short jumper by Kennedy cut the gap to a single point. Moore followed with a basket to give the Mustangs their first lead since the first half. After a free throw by Temple junior guard Quenton DeCosey tied the game at 52, Moore gave the lead back to SMU for good with the critical three. SMU Coach Larry Brown said Moore was not playing particularly well until the game was on the line.
“He was awful,” said Brown. “I pointed to the clock and said this is what great players do, they step up. He makes two huge plays, gets the ball to the right person. He is capable of doing this. Late is when special players have to step up, and he did.”
For the game Moore scored 10 points on 4 – 11 shooting, had 5 rebounds, 5 assists, but 7 turnovers.
Temple appeared to be in control as a 10 – 0 run near halftime resulted in a 33 – 24 lead with under a minute to play in the first half. The lead stretched to 41 – 28 at the 18:07 mark on a jumper by senior guard Jesse Morgan, who scored a team-leading 15 points for the Owls. SMU started a comeback, caught, then passed Temple.
“We have not comeback from a double-digit deficit in the second half on the road against anybody,” said Brown. “We haven’t handled adversity the way other programs do. This is a big step for us because we did a lot of good things and beat a quality team.”
The Mustangs out rebounded the Owls by a 20 – 8 margin after intermission. Kennedy, a transfer from Villanova, had a team best 7 rebounds all in the second half, and caused foul trouble for the Cherry and White front line. Jalen Bond led Temple with 7 boards.
For the Owls DeCosey scored 13 points and junior guard Devin Coleman had 10. Injured senior guard Will Cummings played 27 minutes. He scored 1 point, but played well on the defensive end.
SMU improved to 13 – 4 on the season and 4 – 1 in the AAC.
Temple fell to 12 – 6 on the campaign and is 3 – 2 in conference as they dropped their second straight league game after having a double-digit lead.
“There is no reason why we should be losing these games,” Morgan said. “We’ve got to defend better, we’ve got to do better.”
The schedule remains tough for Temple with a road contest with Cincinnati up next.
“It’s a hard stretch,” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy about the slate of games. “Cincinnati, that will be like getting blood from a stone. We are going to have to manage that game, but that’s the challenge for these guys.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian